Summary

The short story

 

Welcome to the short story of my trip. I selected 96 pictures (sorry, I really couldn't give a good overview with less) that tell all the important and nice things that happened to me, the people I met and the places I visited. I would also tell about bad things happening to me, except there weren't any so I can't tell you about it. Of course all pictures are clickable to view the picture enlarged.

My good friend Ian, even though he's from Newcastle, England (just kidding mate).

This is not a tric photograph: I'm performing some vegetable carving here during my cooking course in Chiang Mai.

Yes, indeed I did a 3-day course in Thai cooking. Here's the proof. The real proof is having me cook a Thai meal for you.
A 3-day 2-night trekking in Chiang Mai. Do you see the exhausted look on my face? That was only the first break after 30 minutes, 3 hours to go; straight up, enormous heat and humidity and a backpack. Damn that Ian for getting me pissed again the night before.
Our first place to spend the night in a hill tribe village. The hut is our 5 star Hilton hotel
Luckily the second day we rode an elephant for half a day: no walking. The girl is Vicky from England. I saved her life so she's eternally thankful
The bath room on our second night: a nice refreshing shower in the river. The river is really the central place in the village: everyone baths there, washes their clothes, and I wonder where the sewer dumps it's content.
Trying my musical talent with the locals. Not my future: they let me start out with the most difficult instrument and within five minutes I ended up with the easiest and least significant instrument.
The girls who performed for us. The girl in blue is not looking extremely happy. It figures: she's a refugee from Birma, hiding in this hill tribe village. One of the girls in our group was thinking of taking her with us and give her employment at her parents in south-thailand. In the end she thought it would be too risky so we had to leave her behind (wise decision probably).
The doggy Viking bar in Chiang Mai. The bartenders are not acting: they were always hanging on the bar, pretending to be dead. Still good fun though.
The real tourist: attend a monkey show and have one of those animals sit on your shoulder just for the picture.
At the snake show the guide kept telling me to come and sit on the first row. Not a chance my dear friend: I stay away from snakes as far as possible.
Halong bay, north Vietnam: beautiful, over 3000 little islands/big rocks rising from the sea. Locals actually do live on these boats.
The pretty view from my hotel on Catba Island. Why do I always manage to get electricity and telephone wires in my pictures?
Stunning nature views from Vietnam
Here's me in a rice paddy. The little Sarong around my neck is functional: I use it as a sweat towel, the poor thing has been soaked so often.
At the end of the walk we were transported to a big boat in little boats. And I mean really little boats that took water like crazy.
But the views are worth the danger...
I'm a sucker for sunsets. We enjoyed this one with a Tiger (the best beer in Vietnam).
This is attempt to catch the chaotic traffic in Vietnam, in this case in Hanoi. Attempt failed: you just can't get it on picture, you have to experience it and see the moving traffic.
Hanoi, 01-01-2002. Happy New Year Jimmy!
Sapa, north Vietnam. Stunning views, but also a lot of poverty.
More rice paddies in Sapa
Simple but smart technology: use your water and gravity to fill the bucket at the end of the crowbar. Through the weight of the water the bucket goes down and the hammer at the other end of the crowbar goes up. The water gets to heavy so it floats from the bucket, the hammer smashes down and BENG: your rice is crushed. Thank you nature, I'll just sit around and smoke a cigarette while you work.
Our guides on the trip. These hill tribe girls look 12-year olds but are in fact 18 and 19. very strong, keep walking and joking all day, never had any education but speak very reasonable English. Unbelievable
Did't get any sleep on the train, so I tried to catch up a little in front of the only cafe we could found that was open at 05:00 am.
The legend of the tunnels build by villagers during the US-Vietnam war to protect themselves form bom attacks.
An entire village lived in here for 3 years, you cannot imagine what that must have been like.
Stunning view during the motor bike tour in Hue.
Cafe On Thu Wheels. This cafe is run by a funny, crazy woman called Thu. All the walls are painted with remarks form happy customers (there are no unsatisfied customers). Thu has about 12 big guest books and she knows them by heart.
The lovely little girl with the big mouth and an obsession for bananas and coconuts.
Here she is again with a bottle opener holder I had made for her. It was ment to be put on the wall but she prefers to use it as a purse. Yep, it's still Asia where nothing is what it appears to be or ment to be.
My dear friend Gil from the US on a little boat tour in Hoi An. Was this woman really sick when she started throwing up or just trying to gain our pity for her poverty and bad health to get some extra money?
And of course I need to seek danger and hang on the back of a jeep.
January 12, 2002. And in the middle of absolutely nowhere my first encounter with the euro. The kids try to get coins from your country, they trade them for Vietnamese money with the next tourist. My excuse always was: my country does not have money anymore, it changed. Yes, yes, I know: euro, and he held up the coin....
Just another very nice view, taken from the train from Hue to Ho Chi Mingh city
Mekong Delta, big hide-out place for Vietcong. Those Americans must have been scared: behind every tree a VC could be waiting for you.
Vietcong hut, very well hidden.
Hell, why not: an elephant in the middle of Bangkok
Wendy relaxing at a waterfall at Koh Samui.
Wendy being lazy on the beach, and she deserved it. These are the kind of rotten beaches I've spent about two months on.
The usual setup for a stay in a jungle hut: water, music, sigarettes, cola and some Thai whiskey.
Another rotten beach, this time in Phuket.
Picture taken on Koh Tao for my brother's company. For a little fee they can use it in their next Campari add.
Koh Tao, the place where I did my first scuba diving course. The setup here makes it easy to understand why it was so hard to leave this place.
But, I had to leave Thailand as my visa ran out. From Koh Tao I took the night boat. Ever felt like a boat refugee?, I did.
Meet the girl: Oraphan. She's a messenger and we met in Bangkok. I ended up spending quite some time with her.
Oraphan on Koh Samui.
What more do you need: sitting on the veranda of your bungalow at the beach with a nice girl, a beer and a cigarette.
For me this is just a very nice beach at Koh Phi Phi. For others this is the place where they shot The Beach (apparantly that's a book and a movie, I don't know neither).
Indeed a very nice beach.
The traditional picture of Sydney with the Opera House.
And back in Bangkok. I wonder what Mr. Pepsi and Mr. Coca Cola would say, seeing their adds so close together.
You might wonder, but yes: I did visit some temples. I hate taking pictures of people practising their religion but could not resist taking this picture of Oraphan and Buddha.
In Medan, Sumatra, Indonesia, they do know the city is polluted (and it really is polluted). This sign shows the concentration of the various intoxicating fumes.
On my way to Samosir island, Lake Toba.
My lousy bungalow at Samosir island, but what do you expect for 2,5 euro a night (hihi).
Kids love to have their picture taken. The nice thing about the digital camera is you can show them the result. When you do they go bezerk as they have never seen something like that.
Admitted, this bungalow at Palau Nias is a little bit doggy. Still it is my own bungalow 5 meters from the sea. I don't complain at 1 euro a night.
My surf instructor Dedy. Although he is cripple, he did a fine job of teaching me.
No words needed.
Another nice sunset during a 48-hour journey from Palau Nias to Jakarta. Actually the most relaxed way to travel long distances when you don't want to buy a plain ticket.
Little tour in a rice paddy, Bandung, Java.
The tour guide, manager of the guest house in Bandung and my assitant private investigator.
Papandayan volcano, Java. I bet you've never seen a landscape like this. this landscape is so surreal I took a million pictures.
Boiling water becomes steam. Boiling usually means it's hot. I kind of forgot that when I said to Ellen: "Please take my picture while I stick my head in this hole". Boiled Peter with sulphate flavor, very delicious!
Me in the beauty salon, the sulphate mask is supposed to make you look 5 years longer. No wonder all the Asians think I'm 24.
Little group picture, all ready for a nice bath to wash off the smelly stuff.
Here's the bath in a hot spring, one of the nicest experiences of my trip.
More little kids.
Trip to the Green Canyon, Panangdaran. Why is Christel sticking out her tongue at me?
The view from my bungalow in Panagdaran. It becomes boring, doesn't it?

The downside: pollution. On the ferry they had signs saying "please keep the ship clean". Imagine my surprise when I saw the crew throwing the garbish in the open sea! This is where it ends up....

That's the Asian spirit: when it's out of your sight, it's not your problem anymore.

The equator ripp-off at Bonjol, Sumatra. This picture is taken from the actual equator (my GPS told me that). The posh landmark where the equator supposedly is, is 130 meters to the north.
So this is the big line: here you cross form the southern hemisphere to the northern (or vice versa). As mentioned: it's a 130 meters ripp-off.
More little kids in the oldest house on West Sumatra.
Malaysia, Taman Negara National Park. This jungle walkway is 500 meters long, built up in the trees at meters height.
Found in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Yeah right Mr. Gates, a final edition of one of your products??!!
Train ride from Surat Thani to Bangkok. This police officer happily posed for the camera.
Big, big, really big drinking party in the train. The person on the right is clearly a girl, but what about the one on the left?
This is Lyse, from the UK but living in New York. I hold her responsible for the heavy drinking in the train and the resulting hangover. Here she is having a typical breakfast in a pharmacy: red bull and some valium for her new tattoo.
The beautiful surroundings of Cairns, Australia.
Nicky and Geoff, a couple I met in Vietnam, really made me feel at home.

Meet Wally. Wally is a Napoleon Maori Wrasse and lives on the Norman Reef, Great Barrier Reef. He's trained by the crew of Down Under Dive to entertain divers: you can swim with him, have Wally drag you along and even kiss him.

Conclusion: Wally is cool!

Taking my camera down when snorkelling: absolutely stunning.
Sunset on a liveaboard.
Sunrise on a liveaboard.
Getting ready for the dive (06:15 am)
Taking hte camera down on a dive. I have to show you a couple of pictures because it is so breath-taking.
Coral
Hello Asha and Greta
Hello Peter, keep your butt up: you're creating to much resistance in that heavy water (actually taken on Koh Phi Phi)
May 20th, Cairns. Am I gonna jump of that?
Once again, now from the other side: Am I gonna jump from this height?
Yes, I am! If I kill myself I'm at least wearing the shirt my friends painted for me, telling me to have a good time and make sure I come back in one piece.

May 21th (Australian time), Cairns to Brisbane. One more nice sunrise.

 

It's been a really, really good 6 months

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